Michael Bennet gets caught in a moment of rare honesty with an open mike in the Senate:

“It’s all rigged. The whole conversation is rigged. The fact that we don’t get to a discussion before the break about what we’re going to do in the lame duck. It’s just rigged.”

Of course it is.  They know what they want — a deal to extend all the Bush tax cuts for 2-3 years.  It’s just a matter of how the Democrats can set the Republicans up to take the blame, yet not do it in a way that causes political blowback for them.  They tried for months to get the Republicans to share the blame for the health care bill, and couldn’t pull that off either, so I doubt their competence has improved significantly.

So Nancy Pelosi will preside over her little piece of stunt theater today in the House, taking a meaningless vote that will surprise nobody when it fails because she set the bar for success at 290 votes, which they can’t possibly hope to achieve.

But gosh darn it, they tried.

[ed. note: The House will use a procedural move to vote on the $250,000-level cuts under regular order without opening it up for unlimited amendments.]

And then the Senate will all huddle together, because the Democrats will have “proven” that the Republicans are obstructionists, and say “well, extending the tax cuts for 2-3 years” (you know, temporarily, like the President has been saying) is “the best we could do.”

There’s no difference between passing them all indefinitely and passing them for 2-3 years, because the same crew will just come back and do the same thing again.  Nobody is seriously trying to fight for anything better, or negotiate, or play hard ball, or deal in a way that might ACTUALLY put the Republicans on the spot. You know, by crafting a compromise that actually HELPS people.

Brian Beutler, reporting on the Monday White House meeting:

At an undisclosed White House meeting yesterday with Senate Democratic leaders, President Obama pushed back on a controversial, but politically potent tax cut plan that has knocked Republicans off message in recent days.

Pushing hardest for the new approach was Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third ranking Democrat in the Senate and the Dems’ new point man for combining message and policy. He proposes to create a new tax bracket above the $1 million income threshold, and let Republicans decide whether to fight to the death to give those people a tax cut. It’s the one compromise that polls well and wrongfoots the GOP at the same time.

Got that?  I’m going to repeat it one more time, just to make sure people heard:

President Obama pushed back on a controversial, but politically potent tax cut plan that has knocked Republicans off message in recent days.

Say it one more time, just to be absolutely clear:

President Obama pushed back on a controversial, but politically potent tax cut plan that has knocked Republicans off message in recent days.

So there actually is a plan out there that has “knocked Republicans off message”:

“Republicans are worried about this proposal because it would expose that they are fighting for millionaires instead of the middle class,” said Schumer’s spokesman Brian Fallon in a statement to me.

Just today, Republicans were forced off their usual tax cut talking points to blast Schumer’s plan not because it will raise taxes on millionaires, but because it focus groups well.

But instead of actually trying to fight that fight, Nancy Pelosi schedules some bullshit vote as a way to “expose the Republicans” when they vote against extending only the middle class tax cuts. You know, those Republicans who are going to take credit for extending ALL the tax cuts against opposition from Democrats, the thing that is actually going to happen.  Like people are going to remember some meaningless procedural vote from the 2010 lame duck session.

Meanwhile, Obama is — let’s say it one more time — pushing back against a plan that might have a chance of blocking an extension of the tax cuts at least to those at the very top of the food chain.  Why?

But Democratic leaders (other than Schumer) and Obama himself oppose the plan for a few reasons. At the meeting yesterday, according to a source familiar with the discussions, “the concerns expressed were about the cost [to the deficit] and the risk of redefining the middle class as those making over one million.”

Okay. So Obama won’t come out in public and say that he only wants a bill extending tax cuts for people making under $250,000 a year, he won’t threaten to veto any bill other than that, we know the House has scheduled a vote that can’t possibly pass, and the Senate doesn’t even have the support from the Democrats — let alone enough Republicans to pass it.

Uh-huh. Right.  So this is what Obama REALLY cares about.

Bulllshit.  We’re headed for extending ALL the tax cuts for 2-3 years, because that’s what Obama really wants.  The rest is just political theater designed to appease the chumps base.

Meanwhile, as entertaining as all of this is to political junkies, 2 million people are set to lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the year.  Which nobody, in the midst of their partisan game playing, seems to give a shit about.

It’s Christmas time, you bastards. People can’t feed their kids.  You continue to shovel trillions of dollars at the banks.  And all of you — Pelosi, Reid, Obama — you fail the test not only of leadership, but of basic human compassion. Of having any kind of a moral compass.

The game is rigged.  And nobody will be fooled into thinking that little treat you’re going to drop in their Christmas stocking is anything other than a lump of coal.

Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as the first woman speaker of the House  — who ran a freak show for the masses while the oligarchs stole the country blind.

Update:  According to Kagro, Pelosi is using another maneuver to bring the bill up such that the GOP can’t make a motion to recommit — or add amendments.  So it will require only a simple majority.  It may pass, but even then it will only wind up in the Senate, where Reid won’t be able to get support within his own caucus (let alone from the Republicans) to get cloture on it.  With time winding down, just more kabuki.  Not impressed.